I felt a bit like a troublemaker as I walked the creepy streets of Clearwater, Florida back in 2010. Ever since then, I’ve had a fascination with Scientology.
Maybe it’s because I loved Top Gun as a kid. Maybe it’s because the name implies the study of science.
Or maybe it’s because its creator—a science fiction writer fascinated with psychological control—designed it to be fascinating.
Wait. I Have to Buy all This?
I first learned of the “religion” when I noticed one of their book stores downtown in the area of UT at Austin.
What’s a religion doing with a book store? I thought.
Yes, Christians have book stores too. But they don’t make you buy everything sold in them to learn that Jesus died for your sins.
After reading Janet Reitman’s Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion, I became even more intrigued.
Now, brazen-tongued troublemaker Leah Remini has cast herself as another disillusioned former member in the star-powered comedy of the absurd.
You probably know Remini from King of Queens. In her new tell-all expose Troublemaker: How I Survived Hollywood and Scientology, she is equally entertaining while denouncing the business—er, religion—and dethroning its kings.
It Doesn’t Work
While we can learn a lot about the manipulative power of cults by reading her book, we can learn something about other worldviews as well.
Leah writes that her “‘gains’ in Scientology were not relating to the real world.”1
She is explaining that Scientology fails one three tests for truth through which all competing worldviews should be filtered: experiential relevance.
Some ideas work wonderfully inside a bubble community of like-minded proponents but fail to work when troublemakers like her apply them to the real world.
An example is the concept of karma.
It sounds fine on the surface: you might get another chance at life, you might have had a previous life, and maybe it can somehow allow for justice.
But karma neither relates to the real world, nor can it help you in it. It’s the philosophical baggage that often accompanies an appreciation of Eastern decor, relaxing, and incense.
It’s Not Me. It’s Them.
In Scientology, shame is absolved due to a not-yet-rightly-functioning “reactive mind,” and Leah explains the implication:
“A person could admit to the most heinous things and feel no remorse.”2
It’s not you doing it. You’re not the troublemaker. It’s your thetans (spiritual parasites you must “clear” from your body, according to Scientology).
Are not troublemaking Christians sometimes shifting that same responsibility to God?
Yes. And they shouldn’t. They understand God’s sovereignty but need remediation on man’s accountability.
Forever Is Long
What’s the key to solving the world’s problems?
Right. Strong families.
Don’t expect to find them in Scientology circles, because according to troublemaker Remini:
“Scientology doesn’t exactly put a premium on the sanctity of marriage.”3
In fact, I’m not sure anything is sacred in Scientology outside of LRH (the words and policies of its founder L. Ron Hubbard).
Do you like the idea of getting married? Fine.
Do you want to stay married? Better examine your worldview—and your mate’s—carefully.
Doesn’t Play Well With Others
Remini mentions the binary nature of the
business’s religion’s inclusiveness:
“I knew what an extremist religion it was. All in or all out. I knew how onerous the commitment to this religion was and how— despite what certain church representatives said— you had to leave any other belief behind.”4
I personally experienced hearing this lie when I spoke with a Scientologist at a booth outside of a local Walmart. I asked him if I could be a Scientologist if I was already a Christian.
“Of course!” was the answer. “You can add Scientology to whatever religion you practice.”
At least as long as it’s not one of the Abrahamic religions.
Or one that believes in God. Or doesn’t believe in aliens.
It’s not compatible. Trust me. Wait, don’t trust me. Investigate it for yourself.
Do What I Say, Not What I Do
And then there’s the hypocrisy:
“Even though Scientology sees itself as the authority on ethics and responsibility, obscuring the truth is built into its core.”5
Scientology is part of a small club of religions that view deception as a doctrine worth codifying. (Google “fair game doctrine” and “taqiyya.”)
One of Remini’s most revealing claims is toward the end:
“Scientology— despite its claims to the contrary, the practice doesn’t help you better the world or even yourself; it only helps you be a better Scientologist.”6
And the only way to become less troublemaker and more Scientologist is to spend more money on Scientology.
The Queen Stumbles
Overall, Remini does a fine job exfoliating the Hollywood glam of Scientology to reveal its pock-marked foundation. And her public service message to flee from what you know to be false is Oscar worthy.
But she won’t be getting a callback for her lines on how to move forward. In this area, too, she was a troublemaker.
“Belief and faith are great, but very few people have been led astray by thinking for themselves.”7
This caused one of a few cringes that could not be suppressed. After all those brilliant pages, she separates both belief and faith from critical thinking.
The statement could very well have read “belief and faith are great, and very few people have been led astray by thinking for themselves.”
For many, myself included, thinking for myself steered me toward faith, not away from it.
Relatively Correct. . .
And finally, while wrapping up, she slipped in a pinch of relativism which you would expect more from Hubbard than the actress who rejected him, celebrating the belief that:
“. . . what is true for you is true because you yourself have observed it to be true.”8
Leaving out that first “for you” would have earned a standing ovation.
She was so close. I’ll give it to her.
All in all, this is another good book about how Scientology not only fails to build people up, but rather breaks them apart in a twisted psychological role-playing game.
You Shake My Nerves. . .
Scientology is in the business of strengthening families: the ones at the top.
I still love Top Gun. And I still love Maverick.
But I’m starting to think it’s Tom Cruise that’s dangerous. . .
1 Leah Remini and Rebecca Paley, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology (New York: Random House Publishing Group, 2015), Kindle ed., 75.
2 Ibid., 82.
3 Ibid., 96.
4 Ibid., 114.
5 Ibid., 158.
6 Ibid., 203.
7 Ibid., 227.
8 Ibid., 228.